An Events Calendar Tool Powerful Enough to Handle 2013 – Twelfth Day of Christmas Gifts from Tendenci to You!

merry christmas frame spegcs calendarComing to Tendenci Websites in 2013: Event Management and Registration Features You’ll Love for Your Festivals, Galas, and Fundraising Events!

2013’s going to be a Big Year, and Tendenci’s working on new updates to your online calendar and event registration module because we want to make sure this is your biggest year yet!

On the 12th Day of Christmas, Tendenci’s Gift to You: Twelve New Updates to the Events Calendar Module!

Here’s 12 new features and updates we’re making this year to the Tendenci Events Calendar module to help you manage online registrations for your association programs and fundraising Gala’s.

** We’ve got even more event module updates planned for Tendenci’s 2013 Roadmap, and this list is just to give you a taste of the delicious treats we’ll be adding to Tendenci in 2013!

You’ll Love Creating New Events With These New Features

1) Import and Export Events

events import option coming soon
Soon You Can Import Multiple Events with a CSV Template!

We’re super excited about this feature because it will make it faster for you to create multiple events simply by importing all of the text and dates in a spreadsheet, instead of having to create and type in all of this information manually for each event.

2) Default Custom Event Registration Forms

Now you have the choice of using  the default event registration form, or our improved custom event registration forms. We listened to your feedback this year and the new custom registration forms now have predefined  fields that integrate with the website’s database and user records for reporting and simplify the time it takes you to create and customize a new registration form.

custom event registration form
We’ve simplified custom event registration forms for you!

If you want to use a custom registration form now, you already will find a default form with the standard contact information handy to add or remove to your form simply by checking a box. You can also customize which fields on the custom form also display on the event roster. Now you can ask what t-shirt size or special meal requests your guests have without the time involved with creating a brand new form.

3) Schedule Automatic Email Reminders to Attendees

email reminders automatically when you create event
Upload Images and Format Event Reminders to Match Your Association’s Brand

When you create new events, you’ll find a new option that enables you to send email reminders to your attendees that you create and schedule. Tendenci will automatically send the reminder for you, so you don’t have to remember to remind your registrants!

4, 5, & 6) Three New Ways to Promote, Search and Display Your Eventspriority groups and event type filtering new options

4) More Search Options

We’re adding more searchable field filters to the events module so your members can find the events most relevant to each of them. You’ll be able to search your events by date, event type, membership and user group permissions, and more!

5) New Priority Event Feature

You’ll soon find a new Priority checkbox on your new event forms. When you check this, Tendenci will keep your events on top of your events search list, and add a Star icon to your month view calendar. Now you can highlight your main events each month to help your members decide which events to attend.

priority events search and month views
Tendenci Makes Your Top Events Our Priority Too!

Here’s some fun ideas on how you can use the new Priority Event feature:

  • National Associations can feature a different Chapter’s programs and events each month to increase engagement from your different local chapter members!
  • Use the Priority events to promote membership engagement and offer prizes for those who attend every featured event this year!
  • Increase Corporate Sponsorship and Corporate Membership dollars by offering to add your supporting partners’ events to your calendar with the Priority feature setting for higher level packages.

6) Group-based Permission Settings for Displaying Events

This feature will enable you to designate certain events as “belonging” to certain user groups or membership types and allow you to do some really fun things with how events are displayed on your website. For example, one of your study groups could have their monthly study meetup on your event calendar and you’d assign the event to their study group.

Then, you could create a sidebar or box that would only display upcoming events from your event calendar that are assigned to that study group on the study group’s main information page. Members of the study group could visit the study group page and also see upcoming events specific to the group and you only have to add the event once to your calendar to share it in multiple places on your site!

Better Registration Experience for Your Users!

You want your website to be fun for your users and members in addition to your staff, and we’re making big changes across our website to provide better user experiences for your online community members. Here’s some of the ways we’re making registration for events simpler for attendees.

7) Fewer Steps to Register and Pay for an Event

We’re streamlining our registration form so that event registrants can go through as few clicks as possible when purchasing tickets and RSVP’ing for your association events. For most events, your users will be able to add multiple event attendees, select member versus non-member pricing, and view their total all from one registration page.

Adding new registrants is as easy as clicking a button – literally! Just click “Add Another Registrant” and a new section for the registration form will appear below the first registrant. Click to add as many registrants as you need and then submit just once to register and pay for everyone.

registration form for events default
We’re Streamlining Event Registration Process for Your Attendees!

8) Your Users Can Find and Manage Their Events for You!

With the new “My Upcoming Events” option, your members and regular event registrants can now search for events they’ve signed up for, update any of their registration information, cancel events, and add the event to their calendar using the Event ICS option from one place.

new my upcoming events feature
Your members can find and manage their event registration information!

Bonus for You and Your Staff:  this empowers your members to manage their own event registrations, view outstanding balances, and make payments on your website. This means your event manager doesn’t have to handle as many of these admin tasks and she can focus on all of the important tasks!

9) Updated Email Template for Event Registration Confirmations

We’ve made a few small updates to the default system email template that your website sends to registrants and confirms their registration along with their receipt for paid events.

The new email template includes an image and uses more of the formatting from your events’ description fields to give your event confirmation emails a look and feel that more closely matches your website’s Event Page. We’ve also made some updates to the helpful links section of the email to ensure your event registrants can find all the information about your event details as well as manage their outstanding balances and registration information.

images in email confirmation
We’re Updating the Look and Feel of Event Confirmation Email Templates!

10) Your Event Roster Now Tracks Attendance

Your event roster has a new “Attend” checkbox where you can mark who attended an event from the roster on your website. If you don’t have internet and a web browser at your event, then you can also print the roster with the Attend checkbox. After the event, take your printout and update the roster on your website with who attended so you can better track and measure attendance for your events.

event roster screenshot
Tendenci Event Roster to Manage Registrants

This is a huge benefit for large events where you have a team of volunteers handling check-ins. They can all be logged into your website and click to check off the people who they’ve confirmed at the event simultaneously!  The next day, you can log into your site and see at a glance who attended and didn’t. You can even view what time they were checked in.

11) Search and Manage Event Registrants Individually

The Event Roster is more intended for you to use to manage all of your event registrants in a batch, and when you need to find a specific registration to cancel or edit – you’ll be seeing some updates here also. We’re adding more information about the registrants to the view, and we’re integrating the event registrant’s contact information and site activity with their user profile on your website.

event registrant search
Manage Individual Event Registrations in Tendenci!

12) Improved Batch Management for Events

On the 10th Day of Christmas, we shared our updates coming to your site’s Admin Backend. You’ll love the updates we’re making that enable batch filtering, editing, and deleting event types, custom event registration forms, and discount codes from the Admin Backend.

Here’s a preview of a new feature that will let you reassign event types:

reassign and manage event types
Keep Your Events Calendar Up-to-Date with Your Association’s Many Changes!

You can quickly change all of the events of one type to another type. Most associations experience lots of changes as they grow and we see features like this helping you keep your website fresh and reflecting the latest changes without demanding lots of time from you and your staff.

Sign-Up for Tendenci 2013 Updates

Keep an eye out on the Tendenci Events Calendar because in 2013, we’re adding new training and workshops for our Advanced Tendenci users. We’ll also start posting scheduled maintenance and software updates, speaking events, and major announcements to help keep you in the loop with what we’re doing at Tendenci.

We are constantly exploring new ways to keep you in the loop with what we’re changing here at Tendenci. Let us know how you like to find out what’s going on here at Tendenci!

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM TENDENCI!

We’re celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas with daily previews of the all new Tendenci Features coming to your association website in 2013! Join us each day to “open new gifts” filled with feature updates for your website! Visit our Twelve Days of Christmas Main Page to find new gifts for each day from now until January 5th!

We love to hear your questions and comments about Tendenci, the open source CMS for Association’s – leave a reply below in our comments section or send us your thoughts via email to support@tendenci.com.

Tendenci Helps Non-Profits Profit With Revenue Generating Tools and Advice

Photography by Tracy Olson

Could Your NonProfit Organization Use a Little Extra Dough?

Ok – that is a trick question because of course you’d love to earn more this year for your nonprofit or association!  I’m going to share a secret and give you some simple steps to follow to make this year your nonprofit’s best financial year yet.

What’s the Secret?

Step 1 to increasing your online revenue is to integrate your website with an online payment gateway.  You’ll want to apply for a CNP Merchant Account, (CNP stands for card not present), which will allow you to accept online credit card payments from your site visitors, donors and members easily.

Credit cards are fast and secure, making them the preferred payment method for your site visitors’ online purchases.   If you don’t have a merchant account and are accepting online payments, then you are probably using a 3rd party like PayPal or Eventbrite to direct your site visitors to when they are making a purchase.

These 3rd party providers are great options for smaller organizations or the one time event, but for nonprofits with membership dues and renewals, regular event registrations, job posting fees, and other online payments coming in – you really will want to consider comparing payment gateway options and accept payments through your own website.  In most cases, a Merchant Account will end up being cheaper than using a service like PayPal or Eventbrite in the long run.

Applying for a Merchant Account is actually pretty simple to do, and is the first step towards increasing your nonprofit’s online revenue.  By integrating payment processing with your website, you also will have more control over the purchasing experience that your site visitors and members have.  This will let you customize and personalize your website better so your site visitors will love coming back to your site.

Here’s some more information about the different merchant account providers that Tendenci integrates with and I recommend.  There are links to the different pricing plans, FAQs and getting started guides for each of the different companies to help you make the best decision for your nonprofit.

What’s the Next Step?

You’ll want to determine what your organization has to offer of value to your community to better understand your current and potential sources of additional revenue.

Take out a piece of paper and a pen, or open up a Word or Google document and just start listing out all the things you are either charging for, or are doing for free that people ask for more of.  Add things to your list that you’re not currently doing and getting requests to do too.  Brainstorm with your staff and volunteers and let them add their ideas to your list.  You may be surprised by how long your list grows.  Non-profits often overlook their value and the opportunities they offer that they can charge fees to provide.

It is a common myth that the majority of a nonprofit’s revenue comes from donations and contributions.

Non-Profits Earn Revenue from Fees for Goods and Services

Don’t just take my word for it.  Take a look at this chart below that displays revenues earned across different Tendenci modules for the past 3 years.  Tendenci’s software integrates each of the different core modules with your merchant account payment gateway to accept online payments through your website.  We compiled data from the last 3 years for the total revenues earned by nonprofit organizations’ Tendenci websites segmented by the different modules including event registrations, memberships, job directory listings, product sales (cart catalog), donations, training courses, and more.

These graphs display revenues earned as a percentage of the total in years 2009, 2010, and 2011:

Tendenci Modules Revenue Earnings Bar Graph
Graph Depicts the Percentages of Revenue Earned from Tendenci Modules

The results of comparing this data tells us that the fees nonprofits earn online from event tickets and membership dues far exceeds fees earned from donations year after year.

If you want to earn more revenue online this year, host more and better events, focus on bringing in new members and increasing membership renewals, offer training courses and consider adding an online store if you have a gift shop.  Offer more services and products for sale and focus less on asking for donations.

Looks Easy on Paper – How Do You Create and Manage These New Services?

If you are feeling a little overwhelmed right now – you are not alone.  Start small, take your list that you made and put stars next to three items on the list that you think your organization has the budget and staff to accomplish this year.  Start with those three and measure the results of their revenue generation this year as you implement them.  Be sure to save your list, keep adding items to it, and return to the list when you’ve accomplished all three of your starred items.  Pick three more things from the list and try those.

I also recommend you utilize technology to help you collect payments, manage your events and members, and report results of your activities so you can make better decisions on what worked, what didn’t work, and what you can improve upon and do more of next year.  I also highly recommend you checkout TechSoup’s website, where you’ll find great reviews and special pricing for software exclusively for nonprofits as well as a Learning Center and a Community Forum where you can find help using unfamiliar technology.

I also recommend you give the new Tendenci CMS for NonProfit Websites a try!

Any More Tips?

Find creative and innovative ways to add value to your organization’s offerings.  To help you get started, I’ve prepared a great presentation and online webinar to give you some creative ways to use your nonprofit website to earn more this year.  You’ll find new ideas to use your website to promote your services, manage registrations, membership applications, job postings, training courses, and more plus collect payments and automatically generate invoices and receipts.

You can register online today for this free webinar hosted this Thursday, March 29th 2012 and if you missed it, check our Training Calendar for the next  upcoming free class.

Find a copy of the presentation on Tendenci’s Slideshare plus additional presentations that show nonprofits how to create more effective online marketing campaigns.

We also have a free 30 day trial where you can start setting up a Tendenci website and try out some of these revenue generating ideas yourself.  Tendenci enables you to create custom pricing for things like membership dues, jobs board postings, event registrations, and donations so that your nonprofit is able to generate the funds needed to grow without having to feel overwhelmed.  If your current website isn’t doing enough for your nonprofit, come give Tendenci a try.

Check out these resources to help you create and set-up a Tendenci Community website: 

Tendenci Training Videos – short videos that walk you through setting up the different modules included with your Tendenci website.

7-Step Guide with Help Files and Videos to take you through the first week of setting up a Tendenci website.

 

 

 

 

SXSW 2012 Surprises | O/S Tendenci, Mobile Kills Privacy, Space Gets Interactive

Tendenci Heads to SXSW Interactive 2012 to Announce Open Source Plans

If you haven’t yet heard the exciting news, Tendenci announced plans for an open source version of our CMS for nonprofit websites at SXSW Interactive 2012 in Austin, Texas.  There is a press release with all the details and a great blog post from Ed Schipul, CEO and founder.  Check out our photos from SXSW 2012 on our website and there are more coming soon.

SXSW always has a ton of new software tools and web innovations being released and this year was no different.  The big themes for 2012 focused on social discovery mobile apps and Outer Space.  I also brought back some lessons learned about the importance of protecting your users’ personal information and data.

Mobile Apps Invade, Kill Your Privacy

Everywhere you went at SXSW, people were talking about “social discovery” and mobile apps like Highlight, Ban.Jo, and Glancee were being downloaded by attendees.  If you haven’t heard about social discovery mobile apps, then be prepared because this is a little creepy: when you download one of these social discovery apps, you give them permission to access your social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare and then they automatically notify you when anyone of your friends or contacts is nearby.  As in, physically near you – and they also notify your friends and contacts when you are near them if they have the app on their smartphone.

You can be walking into a Starbucks and this app will buzz you and tell you who else you know is in line for their morning cup ‘o joe.  The idea behind social discovery apps is to make it easier for you to find out when your friends are nearby, or people you have been talking to online, so you can meet up with them in real life.  That sounds great – until you remember you accepted that random Facebook friend invite for that friend of a friend of your aunt and now your iPhone is telling you they are nearby and want to chat with you.

Finding the settings to turn off the apps’ automatic discovery and sharing of your location can be near impossible too.  You can read one horror story from TechCrunch journalist, John Biggs, when he talks about how the iPhone social discovery app Highlight basically shared his cell phone number with approximately 140 strangers in an SMS invite fiasco.

Key Lesson Learned – Protect Your Users’ Privacy

I am often asked by our clients about how best to grow your online communities and these apps present challenges that make it too easy to accidentally turn off a potential member and to scare off your website visitors who fear their privacy and personal data isn’t being kept safe.

I don’t want to come down too harshly on social discovery mobile apps and I did download and use the Ban.Jo app while I was at SXSW and had fun using it. I think these apps have a time and a place for using them, and then you uninstall them until the next big social event.  The big problem I had was how hard these apps make it for users to control the privacy settings and allow us to choose exactly what data is public and what is private.

I don’t know about you, but I want the ability to use software applications to store my personal data and to connect with friends and colleagues without having to “sell out” and give up control and ownership of that information.

That’s one of the reasons we’ve focused on building so many permissions options into the Tendenci CMS software: both content-specific permissions to give you full control over who can see and change your website content as well as user and member-based permissions to give your staff and volunteers selective access to do what they needed to on your website without having access to the areas they didn’t need.

The first thing I did when I came back from SXSW was create 2 new Help Files on Tendenci’s permission settings so our website Admins can go and take full control over your site’s content.  You can check them out online and let me know if you have any questions after reading through them:

Tendenci’s Site-Wide Permission Control Settings

Tendenci’s Content-Specific Permission Control Settings

Outer Space

SXSW 2012 showed that Space is still inspiring people to create innovative technologies, build new communities, and play Angry Birds.

SpacePoints: Space Outreach at Ludicrous Speeds! gave me the opportunity to lead a core conversation on crowdsourcing the application development to build online communities.  You can check out the SpacePoints application, now officially in Beta and share your secret space story about what excites and inspires you about space.

How to Win Friends and Influence Space Exploration was a great panel that shared how people passionate about space are meeting online and creating offline friendships while driving innovation in space exploration.  I had a chance to hear from Astronaut Ron Garan and the leaders in aerospace talk about how the Space Tweeps Society, NASA, commercial aerospace companies, and ordinary space nerds were making a difference.

A License to Rhok shared how NASA and the open source community is developing Random Hacks of Kindness (rhok) to solve some of humanity’s greatest challenges.  Developers and Non-Developers alike can get involved and find ways to make a difference and solve global problems through programs like the  International Space Apps Challenge coming in April, and Launch.Org, which is collaboratively led by NASA, USAID, Department of State, and NIKE.

Angry Birds Space Launched in style with a Flash Mob Dance Off in the streets of downtown Austin.  Here’s a video from YouTube:

Meet Us at NTEN’s NTC 2012

Our next excursion to a big conference will be in San Francisco for the NTEN 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) April 2nd through April 6th, 2012.  We’ll be out there learning about what technology problems nonprofits are struggling with and giving attendees the first look at the O/S Tendenci Community CMS.

If you are going to be attending NTC or are in the San Francisco area and want to schedule a demo, send me an email and let’s connect!

You’ll soon be able to download Tendenci’s new open source version and we are looking for developers and designers to partner with us and grow the O/S Tendenci Community and platform.  You can sign-up today for a free trial and find out what Tendenci websites can do to help your nonprofit organization succeed online at http://signup.tendenciapp.com!

Check out upcoming Tendenci training webinars and see what events we’ll be at on our events calendar and watch new Tendenci Help Videos weekly!

Google’s Open Social – Good News for Tendenci!

Techcrunch pre-announced Google’s Open Social social software developer APIs today. This is very good news for Tendenci and a lot of other software companies! To explain.

Tendenci has always been written distributed. We have lots of small sites and they do not authenticate against one common source. This distribution is modeled after other fault tolerant systems to function best on a very hostile Internet. And is of course in addition to backups, etc. Nothing is fool proof, but this is a common sense start for the benefit of our clients.

Unfortunately distribution brings with it a set of problems. I am registered on Tendenci, the Houston Technology Center, The Houston Red Cross, etc etc and they are all Tendenci sites. Yet my "friends" list on each site has to be recreated each time and it doesn’t mirror vox, or linkedin or facebook anyway. What a pain! In fact, I just don’t bother.

From the Techcrunch post:

OpenSocial is a set of three common APIs, defined
by Google with input from partners, that allow developers to access core
functions and information at social networks:

  1. Profile Information (user data) (Tendenci users and userprofiles)
  2. Friends Information (social graph) (Tendenci contacts table)
  3.  Activities (things that happen, News Feed type stuff) (Tendenci eventlogs and authors table)

So the question is "on release can we really just connect Tendenci to Open Social?". Well it won’t completely be THAT easy, but pretty close. We already use third party authentication services and integrate with numerous vendors through an XML data interchange. And we won’t really know until we get to sink our teeth into the Open Social API. But right now it looks very promising. More as we learn more!

Ed